So You’re the Little Woman Who Wrote the Book that Made this Great War: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Day 16) P is for Politics: Choose a book that is Political

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Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe

In 1852 this book was published and created a phenomena. It became the highest selling book of the 19th century, just behind the Bible. The first year it sold over 300,000 copies in the United States and three years later over a million in the U.K.

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This book is credited with, like The Jungle, being a revolutionary change in the actual world.

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In fact the political change they believe it started, was the helping bring about more awareness of slavery in the South and promoting abolitionism that sparked the Civil War.

Wow

Wow

In fact, Stowe’s family claims that when Harriet Beecher Stowe met Abraham Lincoln, he greeted her with “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!” Whether or not this is true has been disputed for years with no one really certain whether it happened or not.

dean whinchester shrug smile oh well

Stowe was the daughter of minister Lyman Beecher, and wrote this novel to depict slavery, along with showing Christianity and being an allegory of Christ.

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I started reading this book when I was going down a list of classics provided by Barnes and Noble. As I borrowed the book from the library my mom spotted it and said she loved the book, it was one of her favorites.

I wasn’t thrilled to read it at first as I had heard it was a “bad book”, you know making fun of those of African-American descent.

I don't know...

I don’t know…

I started reading it and became sucked in:

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I was surprised as it was AMAZING! I couldn’t understand why people hated it. It was fantasticly written and such a great story.

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So many people today view the novel negatively; the way it uses “sentiment” to pull at heart strings, how all the slaves “had” to be helped by white men and women, and the fact that Tom never ran away but chose to honor the “contract” of his masters.

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But what they fail to see is that it is a powerful story, has some truly great African and white characters, and that Tom is supposed to represent Christ and the things he went through to save our souls.

Wow

Wow

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So the book focuses on six main characters: Tom (called Uncle Tom by others), Eliza, Augustine St. Clare, Eva St. Claire, Ophelia, and Cassey; and their views, interactions, and how they are changed or shaped by slavery.

Tom is a strong, middle aged, African-American slave. He is also a devout Christian and tries to embody the scriptures and live his life for the Lord.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44

“All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.” 1 Timothy 6:1

Tom has been a part of the Shelby family for a long time, and has a family and children. As Tom knows how to read, his cabin is the place for the other slaves to go and hear about Christ along with getting individual instructions. George Shelby is the young “master” of the house and spends all his time with his “Uncle Tom”. In fact Tom is more of a father to him then his own father, and also his religious instructor.

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However, the Shelby’s have debts and they have to sell somethings…or in this case some people. They choose Tom as his height and strength will get a lot and we have the incredible sadness of seeing a family torn apart because of an archaic principle.

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Another slave, Mrs. Shelby’s maid, Eliza is married to a slave from another plantation. After a series of miscarriages, the two were finally able to give birth to a boy, Harry. While the Shelbys are a kind people, George’s master is cruel and he can’t stand it anymore.

“My master! and who made him my master? That’s what I think of–what right has he to me? I’m a man as much as he is. I’m a better man than he is. I know more about business than he does; I am a better manager than he is; I can read better than he can; I can write a better hand,–and I’ve learned it all myself, and no thanks to him,–I’ve learned it in spite of him; and now what right has he to make a dray-horse of me?–to take me from things I can do, and do better than he can, and put me to work that any horse can do…he puts me to just the hardest, meanest, and dirtiest work, on purpose!”

George decides to flee to Canada, earn enough money, and then return to purchase his wife and son. After he takes off, Eliza gets the news that she will be sold as well to pay the debts.

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Afraid to be separated from her child, she too tries to take the long road to freedom.

Not good

As Tom is taken away, George vows to one day buy his friend back and free him.

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Tom is sold to a trader and being transported on a riverboat when he spots a little girl, Eva St. Clare. He misses his own children, so he begins amuses her, and she begs her father to buy him. Augustine St. Clare loves his little girl and gives in to her every whim. He buys Tom and takes him to his plantation.

Here Tom and Eva share their love of Christ as they both have a strong faith and relationship with the Lord. We also meet St. Clare’s sister Ophelia, who is from the North, who has moved to help take care of the house. Now here we have a great critique on the North’s treatment of African Americans. Ophelia is an aggressive abolitionist, constantly lecturing St. Clare and talking about the evils of slavery, yet she can’t stand to be around those of African-American descent. She is a complete racist, but can’t even admit it to herself.

“Well!” said Miss Ophelia, “you southern children can do something that I couldn’t.”
“What, now, pray?” said St. Clare.
“Well, I want to be kind to everybody, and I wouldn’t have anything hurt; but as to kissing – ”
“N*****,” said St. Clare, “that you’re not up to, – hey?”
“Yes, that’s it. How can she?”

St. Clare, tired of her constant lecturing, buys her a slave girl, Topsy, and bets she won’t be able to help her. At first Ophelia does poorly, having to instead be lead by Eva in showing kindness.

one word kind change day

Eva and Topsy become best of friends, even though they “should” be separated buy race and class, it doesn’t matter to Eva as all she sees is someone who needs love.

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Augustine is another interesting character as he isn’t a fan of slavery, but won’t do anything. He sees the way Christianity is, how his daughter lives but won’t commit to it. He is supposed to represent the people who were against slavery but never took a stand against it, waiting for future people to decide or others to fight. When his daughter dies, he is utterly heartbroken.

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He promised Eva on her deathbed to release the slaves and become an abolitionist for his daughter, but waits too long and is killed before he can do it.

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Meanwhile, Eliza has been running for her life and from slave catchers, and she actually manages to find her husband. After they go through horrible hardships they manage to make it to Canada and freedom.

Tom is sold by St. Clare’s wife, while Ophelia returns to the North with Topsy, taking what she learned with her, as Topsy does the same.

Tom is sold again, this time to the incredibly cruel owner Simon Legree. He rapes and beats his slaves. He begins to hate Tom and treat him in unspeakable ways. He has a slave, Cassy, who is his unwilling mistress. He has stolen her children from her and sold them, beat her, and just given her a horrible life. She is bitter and in pain.

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She is a quadroon, one quarter black, so she has a strange place in society. She is better educated than most, but is a sex slave, representing the harsh lives of female slaves and how they are at the whim of their master more than the men. Simon is planning on replacing Cassy with a young girl he just bought, Emmiline.

One day as they are picking cotton, Tom sees a woman struggling to fill her sack and looking at horribly beaten or worse. He helps her, aided by Cassy, and is then ordered to whip the women by Legree. When Tom refuses, Legree whips him and Tom has earned a permanent spot on his hit list.

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Tom’s pain makes him consider turning back on his faith, but he sees a vision and remains true.

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.” Psalm 89:1

Cassy knows the life that Emmeline will have and decides to run away with her. When Simon finds them gone he tries to beat the answer out of Tom, but he will not reveal anything. He is so horribly treated that he begins to die.

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George arrives to buy him, but is too late. He fights with Simon and takes Tom’s body, giving him a proper burial.

Leave me alone so I can cry over the death of my fictional characters

Cassy and Emmeline reach Canada and find themselves with George Harris and Eliza. It turns out that Eliza is Cassy’s daughter, and the two are finally reunited.

Double double yay

In the end George goes home and decides to honor Tom and free all his slaves:

“It was on his grave, my friends, that I resolved, before God, that I would never own another slave, while it is possible to free him; that nobody, through me, should ever run the risk of being parted from home and friends, and dying on a lonely plantation, as he died. So, when you rejoice in your freedom, think that you owe it to that good old soul, and pay it back in kindness to his wife and children. Think of your freedom, every time you see UNCLE TOM’S CABIN; and let it be a memorial to put you all in mind to follow in his steps, and be as honest and faithful and Christian as he was.”

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So this story is an amazing thing. Why would people call it horrible?

Why not?

Why?

Well what I personally feel has caused this shift from honoring Uncle Tom and all the other characters to having their names now be used as derogatory terms was the over-popularity of the novel.

Say What

As this book became so sought after and was selling millions of copies; everyone wanted a piece of the pie; but when there such a wide amount of people madly grabbing to make their fortunes, they tend to forget about what the book actually stood for and was trying to change. Plays and films were being made based on the story, but instead of honoring and revealing the social issues that Harriet Beecher Stowe was writing about, these pieces became all about entertainment and cheap laughs. No longer are we shown the characters going through different trials to reveal the hypocrisies and social injustices of the time, but instead are given pure comedy or in extreme cases sexual innuendo.

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Too few people actually read the novel and understood how the characters and situations can be easily relatable.

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Uncle Tom is more than a slave toiling in the United States waiting for his freedom, but is a figurehead for any oppressed people. As David Reynolds writes in his book, Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Fight for America, Tom easily connected to the Russian serfs; the Chinese peasants, the Chinese immigrants in America, Jews all over the world, black slaves in Brazil, black slaves in Cuba, etc. Tom’s passive resistance to Simon Legree, as he does not listen to Legree’s warning but continues to stand up for what he believes in and aids Cassy, and Emmeline; can even connect to passive resistance done by Gandhi in India, Martin Luther King Jr. in the South, and Cesar Chavez here in California. While the unjust situations may never be the same as those that Tom or the other slaves faced, wherever trouble arises and people are suffering Uncle Tom is there struggling alongside and encouraging the oppressed that everything will be alright in the end.

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Another way that Tom’s character is still so relatable and present in today’s time is how loving and willing he is to protect others. Tom lives by the mantra “the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few”; causing him to be the type of person we all want to be. The way Tom lays down his life so that the rest of the Shelby slaves could be spared and in the end dying to protect Cassy and Emmeline; is behavior we all admire and hope would imitate in such situations; as no one wants to imagine themselves being a Sambo or Quimbo character; betraying their fellow man to protect their own interests. We all recognize the value and honor of self-sacrifice for a person or a cause.

In Stowe’s novel she hit upon so many issues, and attempted (and in some cases succeeded) in trying to make a difference in how African-Americans were treated. While she did not completely change the way the United States worked, or resolved every issue; her novel did bring awareness and start people talking and thinking about abolition, integration, education, religion, politics, etc. This initial jolt eventually set America on a path to striving for change.

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to The Great Depths of the Ocean are Entirely Unknown to Us: Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

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For more Harriet Beecher Stowe, go to If It Means A Lot to You

For more on the Civil War, go to Why Everyone Should Read Gone With the Wind

For more Frank Peretti, go to A Giant Metal Man: The Iron Giant (1995)

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Today’s song is O Holy Night. In 1843 Roquemaure, France; the church organ was renovated. The priest asked wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau, to write a poem to commemorate the event. Four years later it was turned into a Christmas carol by compser, Adolphe Adam.

In 1855, minister John Sullivan Dwight translated and created the version that most sing today.

I choose the version by Josh Groban.

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For more Josh Groban, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more Christmas Carols, go to I’d Spent Some Time As a Kid Wishing My Name Were Ashley or Katherine, if Only Because It Would Have Made Life Simpler, But My Mom Liked to Tell Me That My Name Was a Litmus Test: Along for the Ride

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To Win a Part of My Heart

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27) Five Ways to Win Your Heart

Now winning a heart is a long, and laborious thing. There is much it involves, but I say this five things put you ahead of everyone else. 🙂

And these are in no particular order.

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1) Be a Movie Fan

I’m sure all of you are aware of how much I love movies. And all movies. I watch every genre, from the 1920s to the present time.

So to me it is important that you not only love watching films (I know some people who don’t and I think that is cra-A-zy!), but you have to be appreciative of those made in the past.

Now do we have to feel the same way about every film? No. As long as you are willing to view my favorites with an open mind, I’m good. SaneMovie

Except for Star Wars, if you don’t like that then forget it.

In my case Boy

In my case Boy

Now in my case as I love films, you know I quote them ALL the time. You don’t have to do it, but you have to love me doing it.

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For more on my film obsession, go to She’s Still Preoccupied With 1985

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2) Read

I love to read, I read all the time. I love talking about books, I love being with books, and I have a horrible addiction to buying them.

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I need someone who is not only able to understand this, but just as obsessed.

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🙂 Dreaming of that.

For more of my love of books, go to One of Many

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3) Listen

I couldn’t find a good picture of listening that I liked so I chose this gif from The Italian Job. Before he kisses her, Charlie listens to everything Stella has to say about her dad. Her anger at him for not quitting his thieving lifestyle; her guilt in not being nicer or having a more loving relationship; and her belief that her father never loved her. Charlie listens to everything and then tells her what her father told him, that he regretted not being a better father to her. He then comforts her, giving her a friendly kiss on the forehead.

I want someone like that, who will sense I’m upset and really listen to everything I’m saying. Not trying to justify it, fix it, but just give comfort in their presence.

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4) Get in to the Holiday Spirit

So you all know I love holidays. Every year I do 14 of my favorite Romantic Moments for Valentine’s Day, list of favorite characters that match with the animal from that year’s Chinese New Year, 17 of my favorite Irish characters for Saint Patrick’s Day, my favorite paintings of Christ for Easter, a celebration of May 4th, 31 days of horror films for Halloween, a thankful post for Thanksgiving, and 25 films of Christmas.

I have also done a post in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. B-day, Memorial DayFather’s Day, the 4th of July, the day time travel was thought of by Doc Brown, remembering the 5th of November, and Veterans’ Day,

So while you don’t have to be big on the holiday spirit, you do need to be willing to come along for the ride. Whether it is eating heart-shaped pizza, baking soda bread, dying eggs, having a Star Wars marathon, going trick-or-treating, dressing up, watching horror films, baking pies, watching Christmas movies, singing Christmas carols, cutting down a Christmas tree, baking cookies, etc; you need be in the passenger seat of my holiday express train ride.

For more on my favorite holidays, go to It’s a Jolly Holiday

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5) Be a Christian

I’m a Christian, as I have stated before, and I want a Christian guy. My faith is very important to me, and I want someone who understands this. Someone, who when I’m struggling or hurting, will instantly pray for me.

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to Musical Madness

For the previous post, go to Hunk-a-Thon

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For more on my idea of the perfect guy, go to How to Meet the Perfect Guy

 

I Left My Car in San Francisco

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This postcard did not lie. I had quite the adventure in San Francisco.

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Now I have traveled to San Francisco numerous times and have loved it. I have had all kind of adventures from getting lost in San Francisco, going to historic sites, traveling to see The Godfather on the big screen, touring Alcatraz at night; but nothing compares to this last trip.

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So it started out very tame. My friend and I had been enjoying Martin Luther King Jr.’s  birthday weekend. As the spring term had just started, we didn’t have much homework and decided to do a Lord of the Rings marathon. As we were watching Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, one of my friends, Alex, brought up the idea of shopping in San Francisco.

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Alex wanted to go to Union Square and Elaine was eager to join him. I wasn’t sure as I had work later that day, but Elaine had work too, so both assured me we would be home in plenty of time.

Yeah right.

Yeah right.

I was waffling, but then they dangled a trip to the de Young museum. Now to some that might sound really boring, but to me that was the deal breaker. They were having this exhibit on the Dutch Masters, and I am a huge fan. Johannes Vermeer, Jan Van Eyck, Jacob Van Rusidael, Rembrandt, William Kalf, Rachel Ruysch, etc. So that was it, I was in.

Double double yay

So the trip was on and I was excited!

So the next day went reasonably well. We started out to San Francisco talking about music, movies, philosophy, whatever. And we headed down to Union Square.

Now I am not completely adept at fashion. In most cases I know what looks good on me and always try to dress well. Or at least matching to what I expect the day to be like.

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And after all Marc Jacobs says:

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Well that’s all fine for Marc, but when you go into those high end shops in San Francisco, not only do I become aware of how little money I have, but also everything that is old or wrong with my outfit. You know missing buttons, scuff marks, frizzies on the sweaters, etc.

Mistake Great Gatsby

I actually didn’t feel as self-conscious this time. And it’s not because I was wearing some great outfit. Actually, most of the clothes I saw there were just ugly. To me the colors were wrong, designs, and even the accessories. The shoes were cute though.

So Alex didn’t find anything that he wanted, and Elaine and I did not have the money for anything even if we saw something we love. So we headed down to the museum.

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As we start heading to the museum…that’s when it happened.

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When the engine overheats.

Ahhh!

Ahhh!

So we need to turn the car off and let the engine cool, and figure out what to do. Only one problem, we’re in San Francisco. That means…NO PARKING!!!!!!!!!!

Crap!

Crap!

Yep we drove around and around and around and around trying to find a spot but where getting NOTHING!!!! Not only is there NO parking, but all the empty spots are now reserved for smart cars. It made us all so furious!!!!!!!!

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We didn’t do that. We were able to finally find a place to park. The only problem now is that Alex didn’t know anything about his car.

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He had just gotten it. While he started calling his father, Elaine called her father and started looking for the manuel.

Phew!

It turned out that since Alex’s car was really fancy and expensive, he needed a special kind of coolant. So then began more calls as we had to figure out which store carried the coolant to put in the car. After we found a store we had to try to get to one and find parking.

Duh!

Yep, this meant we spent another 20 mins trying to find a place to park.

Crap!

Crap!

We finally founs a place near an O’Reilly’s and put in the coolant. Now, by this time it was too late to go anywhere else. Alex thought we had a chance of going to the museum and then heading back, but Elaine and I both agree to  not risk it. So we said good-bye to San Francisco and started heading off toward home when…

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Yep you guessed it, the adventure is not over yet.

As we start driving across the bridge the light comes on AGAIN!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We were so scared. Now for some of you who have never been on the Golden Gate Bridge, let me tell you that is a place you DO NOT want to get stuck on. I just started praying we would make it off before something happened.

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Luckily we made it off the bridge and decided to stop at the nearby Vista Point to call a tow truck.

Now I’ve never been to Vista Point before, I wasn’t ever really aware of it before this time, but apparently it is a BIG tourist attraction as the place was packed chock full of people. We couldn’t find parking ANYWHERE!

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I know, just not our day. Am I right?

So we drive around and around, hoping and praying for a parking spot. Along with hoping and praying that the car doesn’t break down while we are searching for it.

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And it was kind of weird because I noticed a piano mover’s truck there. Why would a piano mover stop at Vista Point and stay there? They were there for quite some time. It was weird.

Weird

Weird

Anyways, so we finally manage to find a parking spot and Alex calls a tow truck. And we all begining calling people to try and find a ride into the city with the car and a ride home.

I’m thinking, this’ll be easy!

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First I call work and let them know there is no way I’ll be able to make it in and then I immediately think to call my Aunt Ann and Uncle Jeff as they live in San Francisco, and I know they would help us out. Unfortunately no answer.

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So then I call my cousin Celeste who also lives in San Francisco. No answer.

Then I call my cousin Erik, who doesn’t live in San Francisco, but was visting his mom, my Aunt Ann. No answer! By now I am getting pretty upset, and wondering why NO ONE is answering their phones. This was how I felt:

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(I later found out that my Aunt and Uncle didn’t answer as they were not in San Francisco but in Napa visiting friends; my cousin Celeste was in Los Angeles visiting family; and my cousin Erik was heading back to school.)

Alex and Elaine were also having no luck reaching our friends. Our friend Aylin had gone home for the weekend, as did our friends Haley and Allie. Our friend Julie was in San Francisco visiting friends, but had gotten sick and couldn’t get us either. Alex called his roommate Roger, but Roger had lent his car to his girlfriend Cora.

So we were stuck and it sucked.

Reality Sucks

Elaine’s parents lived not too far away, although with traffic it was going to be like two hours, but they offered to pick us up if we couldn’t find anybody. We didn’t really want to have them drive all that way and back, so Alex decided to call a cab into the city as soon as the tow truck took the car.

So were stuck waiting at Vista Point.

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Now usually I bring a book with me in my purse just in case of situations like these.

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But this was the ONE time I didn’t and it could have really come in handy.

Instead we ended up making up stories about the people who were there visiting Vista Point, in order to pass the time. The best one was the one Elaine came up with, making one couple spies on some super secret mission involving my suspicious piano movers.

Eventually the tow truck came and picked up the car. As soon as it was gone, Alex called the cab company who said they could meet us in 15.

Double double yay

BUT…

There is always a but

There is always a but

We had to go on the other side of the bridge. Yep, we had to go down the creepy stairs under the bridge that looked like they were going to fall apart.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Yes, and I’m not kidding. Underneath the bridge is uber creepy. It’s the kind of place that serial killers or rapists would hang out.

Freddy Kruger

I actually wouldn’t be that surprised if I saw him there. Or him.

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So we finally make it to the other side and are waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting, and waiting. 15 mins pass and no cab.

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Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!

Just kidding. But we are upset. It’s getting later and later, we are hungry and we want to get to the shop before it closes. Alex calls the cab company again, and they tell us the car is on the way.

Now the side of the bridge we were on was where bikers or cyclists as I should really say, hang out. There were large groups and a couple from Australia that were really cool. But…there were some really weird people.

Weird

Weird

So we had been waiting about 30 mins, when these two guys come up on their bikes. They had been drinking beer and biking. They saw me and Elaine and tried hitting on us, but they were pretty dumb.

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Then they decide they need to pee and just whip their junk out in front of us.

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I mean come on dudes. After that we had some other weirdos come, and we decided that the cab wasn’t coming (50 mins now). Alex called the tow company who told him he didn’t have to come today as his dad had already made arrangements. So we called Elaine’s parents and headed over to Vista Point as fast as we could.

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So we went to Vista Point and started waiting. Shivering as it was getting colder. And then we discoverd that Vista Point didn’t have the best upkeep. Lights kept flickering.

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It felt like we were in a horror film or something.

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Finally Elaine’s parents get there, and we are all so happy we practically leap for joy!

Double double yay

We head on home, stopping for a bite along the way.

So that was my adventure in San Francisco, it wasn’t the first, and it will most definitely not be the last.

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For more scenes from my everyday life, go to Five to Nine

For more on Marc Jacobs, go to Perfectly Imperfect

For more on Gilmore Girls, go to What a Fanatic!

Color Blind

 

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From “I Am the Night-Color Me Black”, The Twilight Zone

This year I decided to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday by devoting a post to the ideals that he stood for and tried to bring across America. Hatred of others needs to stop.

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I love this quote, because so often people forget that racism, bigotry, and prejudice crosses all boundaries; color, age, sexual orientation, gender, etc. And these things should not be tolerated.

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We may never be able to eradicate these things from the world, but if we all try to stand against we can make a difference, no matter how small that difference may be.

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Remember we each can make a difference.

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After all, his did.

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To read more of my favorite quotes, go to Promises Were Made to Be Broken

For more on The Twilight Zone, go to A Trip to the Mall Turns Into the Twilight Zone